Suzi's Blog

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Whiskey Hard Sauce

 

“No, you got it wrong.” Suzen said. “Again.”

“Suzen, the recipe you gave me said sweet potatoes. I wrote the blog based on that.”

“Change it, Sweetie.”

So I am. This wonderful, wonderful dessert is made with pumpkin, not sweet potatoes. Point of full disclosure: one of us at Cooking by the Book did make it with sweet potatoes and it was fine, but it was not the same as pumpkin. So, being obedient to my wife, make this first with pumpkin.

I know that the term bread pudding can generate a cringe. But, trust me, this bread pudding is great. The recipe below suggest raisin bread, but homemade challah is very, very much better.

My suggestion here is to double down on the Hard Sauce, just ladle it on and relish in the cornucopia of rich sweet flavor. You should pour it over the bread pudding, not into your mouth. Suzen got me trying, dribbling on my shirt again, and I was chastised.

On her first bite of this treat, Suzen said, “Oh, my God.” She’s okay with dessert, but  is not a fanatic. This recipe is on her “Do Not Make” list, which mean I’ll have to beg and do work and things before we can both enjoy this. She and I would wolf it down by the bowlful.

You very well might consider this as dessert for a Sunday or holiday meal. Yes, you’ve had bread with your turkey stuffing. But, what if you went with rice for the stuffing and saved the bread for the whiskey? Just consider the possibility. And, you might just want to do a test run, too.

 

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Whiskey Hard Sauce

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon best-quality bourbon or rye
  • pinch of salt

For the bread pudding:

  • 8 cups torn or cubed stale raisin bread (about 1 large loaf)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin [the pie stuff]

Preparation:

To make the sauce, in a large bowl use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla, liquor and salt. Continue mixing until smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside.

For the bread pudding, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart baking dish or individual ramekins with cooking spray.

In a large bowl toss together the raisin bread with the pecans, then set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and salt. Toss the sugar mixture over the bread and pecans, then stir well. Drizzle everything with the melted butter, then toss to evenly distribute.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, cream, eggs and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and sweet potatoes, then mix well. Pour the sweet potato-cream mixture over the bread mixture and stir until well blended. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then spoon into the prepared baking dish or ramekins.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes (bake ramekins for just 15 to 20 minutes), or until set.

As soon as the bread pudding comes out of the oven, top with hard sauce so that it melts into the crevices. Serve warm.

Source: Elizabeth Karmel

 

Honest Whisky Sour

whisky sour

There are times when you want the original. The real original. Not the new thing, not the bottled thing, not the artificial thing.

We’ve had two days of sunshine with scattered clouds and snow showers. It’s beautiful to have golden sunlight dash each flake as it drifts down. It’s also a sign from God to stay indoors. Two months from now, a day like today at 30°F will seem warm. Today it seems cold.

So we had a football day: nachos and pig-in-a-blanket. Fire in the fireplace. And I wanted a classic drink: a good, honest whiskey sour. That drink needs three things: great whiskey, great sour, and great ice cubes. Yes, ice cubes. As it melts, any flavor in the ice is transferred to the drink. Our water comes from a deep well, and the watershed here is drained into a reservoir that eventually feeds New York City. The water is famous for being pure.

That leaves the whisky and sour. Our whiskey is from Tennessee and, like the ice, is no problem.

The sour part is the challenge. Yes, you can buy those lovely plastic bottles of sour mix. I’m sure that there’s no contamination from the plastic. And even if they are made in China, Indonesia, or somewhere in Illinois, I know there is no issue with the quality or anything at all harmful with those chemicals in there. The chemicals that let the bottle sit on the shelf for years with no change in content flavor. That’s right whether you drink the stuff on day one or year four, it’ll taste the same.

That’s just why I make my own sour mix. I’ve posted some recipes here before, but I have a new, very quick one. Kim Haasarud in 101 Champagne Cocktails suggests this wonderful recipe:

Fresh Sour Mix

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup simple syrup

Preparation:

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix to stir, place in a covered container, refrigerate between usage. The lifespan is 2-3 weeks.

With that sour mix, here’s how to have a bright, intense and honest whisky sour:

Honest Whisky Sour

Yield: 1 drink

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces premium whisky or bourbon
  • 3 ounces fresh sour mix
  • Cherry or orange or lemon slice for garnish

 
Preparation:

Place ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously. Pour into an Old Fashioned glass. Add 2-3 large ice cubes. Do not add shaved ice, since it will melt quicker and dilute the drink.

If you prefer you can garnish with a cherry or slice of citrus. Personally, I don’t like things rubbing against my nose when I drink.

Source: Brian O’Rourke with Inspiration from Kim Haasarud